Van Morrison - Astral Weeks (1968)

Album of the day
Astral Weeks is generally considered one of the best albums in pop music history. For all that renown, Astral Weeks is anything but an archetypal rock & roll album: in fact, it isn't a rock & roll album at all. Employing a mixture of folk, blues, jazz, and classical music, Van Morrison spins out a series of extended ruminations on his Belfast upbringing, including the remarkable character "Madame George" and the climactic epiphany experienced on "Cyprus Avenue." Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, Morrison sings in his elastic, bluesy voice, accompanied by a jazz rhythm section (Jay Berliner, guitar, Richard Davis, bass, Connie Kay, drums), plus reeds (John Payne) and vibes (Warren Smith, Jr.), with a string quartet overdubbed. An emotional outpouring cast in delicate musical structures, Astral Weeks has a unique musical power. Unlike any record before or since, it nevertheless encompasses the passion and tenderness that have always mixed in the best postwar popular music, easily justifying the critics' raves.
Truly a classic album which you MUST have in your archive.MM madly recommends it.One of the greatest album of all time.

1 COMMENTS:

alvega on 7:03 pm said...

Sweet post bulut, thank you.

I'm stealing the words of...stolenmoment, because I couldn't have put it better myself:

This is probably my favorite album of all time. I've listened to it countless times, and it never gets old. Those other reviewers who don't "get it" make a few valid points:

1) It isn't perfectly played.
2) The songs aren't polished.
3) It isn't Van's strongest collection of songs.

First of all, it isn't necessary for great music to be note-perfect. ASTRAL WEEKS is about the magic of improvisation-- the suspended thrill of playing (and listening) on the cusp of discovery. In that way, the album is a perfect marriage of music and lyrics, as Van bends and twists the language in an effort to TRANSCEND the earthly significance of his words, to conjure a piece of heaven out of the frustration and pain that wracks his existence. Like Ray Charles did 15 years prior, Van fuses gospel and blues, the sacred and the profane.

For those of you hear only hippy-dippy (...), you're obviously missing the unbearable heartache that haunts these songs. Cypress Avenue deals with unrequited, perhaps forbidden love. Madame George captures the mixture of joy and sadness that comes with lost innocence, getting on "the train" that takes one away from a place of safety and comfort. Ballerina is a burst of effusive passion, but the object of the singer's affection is separate from him, a spectral fantasy that he can only gaze on with paralyzed amazement. Thank god these rough gems weren't polished for radio consumption-- their unique, spontaneous quality would have been ruined.

I concede that this isn't Van's strongest collection of songs, but it's hard to think of these tracks as "songs" in the conventional sense-- impressionistic sketches, maybe, but they hardly lose any artistic merit because of that. ASTRAL WEEKS is not a jazz album, but it certainly brandishes a jazz mentality-- the triumph of feel over form, emotional release over craftsmanship. If that's not your cup of tea, then proceed directly to MOONDANCE. But if you're searching for a true musical journey-- in the truest sense of the word-- then ASTRAL WEEKS is the apogee.

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